Hospitals cope with the shortage of dye for CT scans and some MRIs

Published: Jun. 8, 2022 at 6:12 PM CDT
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The global dye shortage is impacting hospitals.
The global dye shortage is impacting hospitals.(CNN)

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Some Louisiana hospitals are feeling the impact of the shortage of a dye that is critical to some medical tests.

CT scans and MRIs are important to many diagnoses and health care.

Dr. Jeffrey Elder is Medical Director for Emergency Management at UMC New Orleans and LCMC Health. LCMC Health owns or operates several hospitals in the New Orleans area.

“Obviously, things like stroke require CT scan imaging really emergently and then ultimately we end up with MRIs to get some better detail, people that have belly pain or acute appendicitis, people who have blood clots in their lungs, people with infections,” said Elder.

But the shortage of contrast dye needed for imaging testing is having an impact.

“Luckily, we’ve been able to get shipments that we need to keep going, kind of just in time shipments and so that’s kept us moving.”

In other parts of the country, some hospitals see negative impacts.

“They’re looking at cutting us back about 10% of our contrast that we normally would be allocated,” said Mike VanderPol of MyMichigan Health.

FOX 8 asked Ochsner Health which is the largest health system in Louisiana whether the dye shortage is impacting its hospitals but a PR woman representing Ochsner said they would not have anything by our deadline and would likely have updates later in the week.

And some health care systems are being creative with how they use the dye they do have.

“We are looking at how we can stretch what we have, so that may be lower doses of contrast media, splitting up some of the doses based on some industry recommendations, things that we’re following from the American College of Radiology to really take what you have now and make it stretch and last longer,” said Elder.

He said other steps are being taken as well.

“In addition, using other things like not just CT but CT without contrast or ultrasound,” said Elder.

He said emergencies are treated as such.

“And for those emergent conditions, you know, we’re obviously still able to do, you know, the things we need to diagnose folks, you know, when we need to,” said Elder.

And amid yet another supply chain issue, Elders offers advice to patients who may be nervous about the dye shortage.

“I would tell people this is not something that they should be, you know, at home worried about but those who have scheduled scans, scheduled imaging, you know, it’s good to reach out to your doctor just to touch base to make sure everything’s, you know, moving in the right direction, you’ll be able to get those scans,” he said.

He said things are starting to get better, in terms of access to dye.

“We have seen an improvement in the supply chain over the past couple of weeks, so we are starting to see that improve a little bit although we know it may be a few more weeks to months until we’re really fully back to normal,” said Elder.

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